Two University of the Western Cape council members have been suspended pending an investigation into their conduct, the institution’s council said in a statement on Thursday.
Council took the decision on the first day of its two-day meeting, which began on Thursday, where it deliberated over issues clouding the university.
“The council dealt with a formal complaint about the conduct of two council members, Mr Brian Williams and Mr Songezo Maqula, for their perceived engagement with the protesting students.
“Following extensive discussion, council made the decision to suspend both of these council members, pending further investigation.”
An ad hoc committee, which would urgently look into Williams and Maqula’s conduct, had been established and was expected to report back to council soon.
“The suspension was taken in view of the seriousness of the allegations and the fact that council, earlier this year, also dealt with issues regarding Williams’s conduct.
“This was considered as the best way forward in order for council to be able to focus on the very urgent and serious matters currently facing the university and its council.”
‘DISTRUPTIVE AND UNSUITABLE’
The Congress of SA Trade Unions’ Western Cape general secretary Tony Ehrenreich in June called for William’s removal, saying he was “disruptive and unsuitable”.
Chaotic scenes of violence have been playing out at the university, with students locking horns with management since the nationwide student protests began.
Students have reportedly previously raised issues of debt, access and affordability of university health services, accommodation infrastructure and funding, and assistance with study materials for poor students.
On Wednesday, News24 reported that the student representative council (SRC) had issued an urgent memorandum to the university’s council, calling for a lasting solution to student debt.
On Thursday, council voiced its concern about the disruption of the academic programme and the ongoing incidents of violence on campus.
“Whilst council supports the students’ plea for equitable and affordable access to higher education, and other demands being made by students, it strongly condemns the violence and vandalism that occurred at UWC during the student protest action.”
A council delegation led by the chairperson and the vice chancellor, and in the presence of the SRC leadership, met with designated representatives of the UWC #feeswillfall movement late on Wednesday afternoon.
“At this meeting, it was agreed that the UWC #feeswillfall movement could submit a written presentation of their issues to council for consideration.
“Council confirms that such a submission was received and that it is being considered as part of the council agenda and deliberations.
“In view of the gravity of the issues currently facing UWC, council decided to extend its scheduled meeting to take place over two days.” News24